The “Before” Trilogy
There is something about these movies that gets me right in the feels, every time. My theory has always been that it is because I saw Before Sunrise at just the right time in my life. I was about the same age as Jesse and Celine and related oh so much and pined for that romantic, spontaneous love affair that felt so real and so attainable. When we met them again, 9 years later in Before Sunset, I was right there with them in my life. Disillusioned with my love life, imagining what coulda, woulda, shoulda been. So I approached Before Midnight with eagerness and trepidation about what had happened to that couple I identified with and what it might reveal to me about my own life.
I left the theater with mixed feelings, not sure how I felt about it. There were so many uncomfortable moments, and far fewer endearing qualities of characters I feel so close to. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that this is what makes a great movie. The dialogue is so cringe worthy because it is so relatable. The conclusion of this love affair is so true to life. We get the love of our life and it is messy and hard. The biggest testament to the acting and writing of the film is when days later I was recalling a story told by Celine and was trying to remember which friend of mine it had happened to.
My complaints are few. Some scenes went on too long involving the side characters, and then taking the Celine character to a mean, stereotypical “crazy wife” place. I didn’t want to have to choose sides in the argument and wanted her points to be as salient as his. Maybe, though, I just don’t want to admit that sometimes I sound that crazy when I argue with the love of my life.
The movie works because it shines a light on the thing we all rarely talk about. Relationships are hard, the passion fades and you struggle to connect and you have to work through challenging life changes. And sometimes you just want to walk out the door and back in again, and back out again.